Deniliquin Pastoral Times
New register petition
A new online petition has been generated ‘‘demanding the New South Wales Government create a public register listing all owners of the state’s water entitlements’’.
Rural advocacy group Speak Up launched the online petition on Thursday.
It was written by group chair Shelley Scoullar, a former Deniliquin rice farmer who left the irrigation sector amidst soaring water prices.
Previously, NSW Parliament only considered written petitions. But a recent policy change means NSW Parliament is obliged to debate and vote on any electronic petition garnering more than 20,000 signatures.
The new petition is expected to aid NSW Member for Murray Helen Dalton when she reintroduces her bill on the register this month.
Mrs Dalton and her Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party introduced a bill to Parliament calling for a public water register, and the NSW Government countered with a bill of their own.
Local stakeholders argue the Coalition bill would not provide as much transparency at Mrs Dalton’s bill.
NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey’s bill — the NSW Nationals Water Transparency and Accountability Bill — was voted down in the Upper House after failing to get support from Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party, Greens and Labor Party members.
Mrs Dalton’s bill — the Water Management Amendment (Transparency of Water Rights) Bill 2020 — passed the Upper House, but was voted down in the Lower House.
‘‘In early August, the New South Wales Government voted down my bill to force politicians to declare their water interests; and to create an online water register,” Mrs Dalton said.
can continue to buy our water their ownership secret.
‘‘If you’re appalled by this, you can now have your say.
‘‘This petition addresses the New South Wales Government’s main criticism of a public water register — that it violates the privacy of ‘mum-and-dad’ farmers.
‘‘It states that a public register should not reveal private contact details of farmers.’’
Mrs Dalton said her revised bill, which she intends to table in mid-September, includes an amendment to protect privacy.
‘‘I don’t really think this amendment is necessary.
‘‘A public water register was never going to include phone numbers and addresses. You could argue the White Pages violate privacy more than a water register.
‘‘But if the New South Wales Government is using privacy as their excuse, this new clause addresses this concern.
‘‘Now, if they vote against the bill, we will know they are protecting their donors and foreign corporates.’’
Mrs Dalton said her amended bill also strengthens disclosure requirements for irrigation corporations, like Murrumbidgee Irrigation.
‘‘At present, it’s easy for foreign companies to hide their water entitlements inside an irrigation corporation.
‘‘They won’t be able to do so passes.
‘‘If I have the weight of 20,000 petition signatures behind a public water register, it will be difficult for the New South Wales Government to resist it.’’
The petition can be found at https:/ /www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/la/Pages/ ePetition-details.aspx? q=u5AsbL26zf2mnpK/x5Swuw==.